Megan Watzke has spent her career sharing the wonders of science with the widest range of audiences possible. From her role as the press officer for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to her “public science” projects that inject science into daily experiences, she seeks to de-stigmatize science for everyone, but especially for underrepresented groups including women. Megan sees endless opportunities moving forward to improve the connection that people have with science.
Megan Watzke is the press officer for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a NASA space-based telescope that is the sister mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Her responsibilities for Chandra include the dissemination of exciting science of X-ray astrophysics, which includes black holes, exploding stars, dark matter, dark energy, and much more. Her role includes writing, editing, and developing everything from press releases to blog posts to video scripts, and many things in between. She also advises the public affairs effort for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Along with Kim Arcand, Ms. Watzke helped create the “public science” model that brings scientific content into the everyday experiences such as in public parks, subway stations, libraries, etc. These projects have included “From Earth to the Universe,” “Here, There, and Everywhere,” and “Light: Beyond the Bulb.” Ms. Watzke was a co-recipient of the Mani Bhaumik Prize for Excellence in Astronomy Education and Public Outreach in 2010. She has also received other individual and group recognitions, such as the Pirelli International science communication awards for physics as well as those from NASA and Smithsonian. Ms. Watzke is a member of the Northwest Science Writers Association and the National Association of Science Writers. Along with Kim Arcand, she has written four non-fiction books: “Your Ticket to the Universe” (Smithsonian Books, 2013), “Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond” (Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette, 2015), “Coloring the Universe: An Insider’s Guide to Making Spectacular Images of Space (University of Alaska Press, 2015), and the most recent “Magnitude: The Scale of the Universe” (Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette, November 2017).
i. Professional Preparation
Boston University, Science Journalism program/Masters degree 1995-1997
University of Michigan, Astronomy and Astrophysics/Bachelor’s of Science 1991-1995
ii. Professional Appointments
Public Affairs Officer, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
September 2000 – present
Public Affairs Officer, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
January 1997 – September 2000
iii. Selected Recent Publications
Arcand K., Watzke, M., DePasquale, J., Edmonds, P., "Bringing Cosmic Objects Down to Earth: An overview of 3D modeling and printing in astronomy" Communicating Astronomy with the Public. accepted 2017.
Rector, T., Levay, Z., Frattare, L., Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M.,"The Aesthetics of Astrophysics: How to Make Appealing Color-Composite Images that Convey the Science" Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2017
Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M., "Launching Light: Beyond the Bulb, for the UN’s International Year of Light 2015" Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal, issue 18, p.12, 2015.
Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M., “Here, There & Everywhere: Science through Metaphor, Near and Far” Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal, issue 15, July 2014
Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M., “From Earth to the Solar System: A Case Study for Public Science Events” Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal, issue 13, April 2013
Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M., Fletcher, J., Scalice, D., ““From Earth to the Solar System”: Public Science Exhibitions for NASA’s Year of the Solar System” Astronomical Society of the Pacific “Connecting People to Science” Vol. 457, 2012
Arcand, K.K, Watzke, M, Bringing the Universe Down to Earth. Sky & Telescope’s Beautiful Universe 2009.
Watzke, M, Arcand, K.K, “An Overview of ‘From Earth to the Universe’ in the International Year of Astronomy 2009,” ASP Conference Proceedings. 2008
Arcand, K.K, Watzke, M, “Maximizing the Mileage from the Chandra Podcasts,” Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2007. 2007
Watzke, M, “Communicating X-ray Astronomy,” Organizations and Strategies in Astronomy, Volume 7. 2006.
iv. Selected Activities
Co-Chair, IAU’s IYA2009 Cornerstone Project “From Earth to the Universe,” 2007-present
Creator & Co-Chair, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Visualizing at the CfA, 2007 - Present
Co-Chair, 6 Years of Chandra Visualization Workshop, 2005
Photo by Adeline & Grace Photography